Harrell warns of vaping danger

Roger Harrell

CAMBRIDGE — County Health Officer Roger Harrell warned of the dangers posed by the practice of vaping at the Oct. 15 meeting of the Dorchester County Council. Mr. Harrell said that while hard data is not available locally, there have been deaths nationwide attributed to the habit.

Vaping, short for “vapor,” is a method of ingesting nicotine or other substances without smoking, by using a device about the size and shape of a cigarette lighter, also known as an e-cigarette. Vaping is legal and is not regulated.

Mr. Harrell began his presentation with an update on old-fashioned tobacco, the sale of which has been hit with more restrictions. Purchasers of all tobacco products must now be 21 or older.

Preparatory information has been going out to stores for months. Now, their vigilance is required. “The retailers are key to this,” Mr. Harrell said.

As for vaping, it was once, and often still is, touted as a safe alternative to smoking for those looking for a nicotine fix. However, “Twenty-six deaths have been confirmed” due to vaping, Mr. Harrell said.

Part of the challenge in tracking down the damaging factors has been the additives in various vaping products — flavors, for instance, can be added to the liquid that is used in the vapor-producing devices — and the fact that the lack of regulation means an individual maker can mix up a batch and not keep records.

“Some people are buying it off the street,” Mr. Harrell said. He noted that one in four teens report having tried vaping, which is now acting as a pathway to cigarettes for some users.

“The best thing to do is to stop vaping,” Mr. Harrell said.

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